Previous Rank: 5th
Let's get ready to rumble! Nikolaj Ehlers is believed to be entering the Winnipeg Jets 2015-16 training camp with only one goal in mind: securing an NHL roster spot. Some have pencilled him in on the 3rd line, others as high as 1st. As Winnipeg's 1st round pick in the 2014 draft, high hopes and expectations are riding on his skilled and talented shoulders. We experienced this first hand when he basically carried the Denmark World Junior team during this past WJC. However you slice it, Nikolaj Ehlers will be going into camp prepared, focused and ready to rock 'n' roll!
AIH Authors' Notes:
The Jets top prospect has no reason to return to the QMJHL, and arguably had no reason last season either. Look for Ehlers to have a great rookie season as a Jet and establish himself as a cornerstone piece on the roster.
Ehlers is IMO the most talented player to grace the Winnipeg Jets system since the team returned. Ehlers is blessed with immense physical tools. He is an incredible skater, and his shot has a ton of whip. He is also incredibly smart. He sees lines and holes that most don't. He is able to dash through the tiniest of openings to create a scoring chance. I expect Ehlers to force his way onto the team this year and flash his high-flying ability throughout the season.
I consider Ehlers to be an elephant in the room for the Jets right now. I don't think there has been a prospect that has garnered this much attention and hype. Jets are in a tight spot though: keep him up with the big club and risk him getting bullied around and losing confidence, or send him down to the QMJHL where he will once again clean house (or see him head overseas). They said they are going to give him every opportunity to stay with the team; let's see what he can do with it.
In Ehlers, Chevy picked the guy I wanted in round one, so there's not much to dislike anywhere here. Nikolaj has perhaps the highest upside in terms of skillset of any draft pick the Jets have, and it's just a matter of converting them to the pro level. Can't wait to see what he can do, but I have my doubts that he's ready for the pro grind just yet.
As much as some want Nikolaj to play in the NHL this year, I would hesitate to make that happen. Although he's played previously in a men's league, this guy needs to put on a few pounds. At 172 lbs, the rigors of a full NHL campaign will certainly wear him out.
Assets: Is supremely skilled and talented with the puck, able to create plays and finish all on his own. Also has a knack for making his linemates better players.
Flaws: A lack of size is at the root of his issues, so he must add more strength in order to better handle big NHL defenders (and also to maximize potential).
Potential: Smallish but highly-skilled scoring winger with good upside.
Future Considerations, as per Elite Prospects
Ehlers is an explosive player who can beat even the quickest defensemen wide with his speed. He plays on his off wing and creates chances with sharp cuts to the middle complemented by an explosive wrister. He's equally good with the puck and can handle it both at top speed and in traffic.
Tom Urtz Jr. of The Bleacher Report had this summary of Ehlers' abilities:
Ehlers is an amazing offensive player and a top-end goal scorer. Drouin was mentioned earlier, and one scout had some encouraging words for Ehlers in an issue of The Hockey News previewing the draft. "You don't want to compare him to Drouin, but he plays with pace, his hockey IQ is off the charts and he kills you with speed and great vision."
Ben Kerr, Last Word On Sports:
One anonymous NHL Scout had this to say about Nikolaj Ehlers: "He’s got an immense amount of skill and creativity, and whoever drafts him will be very lucky. He’s going to be a good player in the NHL."
In conclusion, Nikolaj Ehlers will likely be in the Winnipeg Jets lineup in 2015, come hell or high water. What do you think? Please leave your comments below, and remember to keep it loud, Jets Fans!